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Happy Birthday Tom!

Mr Baker is, without a doubt, the best Doctor Who ever. What is more I am amazed and totally delighted that he is still making new stories. Stories that I love. I am especially looking forward to the next set of stories coming out in March this year. It will be a bit of a departure, but I am sure it will be amazing.

Happy birthday Mr Baker, may you continue for many years to come.

I backed Thumby on Kickstarter

I backed this even though I really try not to back tech stuff these days. It always feels like I end up with a device that I really don’t need and then eventually sell it. However, this was reasonably priced and just such a cool idea. Plus, I had been thinking about devices that sit alongside your keys. This certainly fits that description.

Over the last few years I have pulled back from backing things on Kickstarter, at least backing technology projects. This is in no small part due to the experience of backing blocks smart watch, which failed to deliver anything at all, but also as I backed too many projects where I subsequently never used the final product.

However, I couldn’t resist Thumby. It is so cool that I have made an exception. I do expect that I will struggle to be able to use it. Especially with a screen of that size and eyesight that is less than great these days. But maybe it will be fun, and maybe, just maybe, it might even be useful. Although I am not holding my breath on that.

The device itself can be programmed using the arduino IDE, which is cool, and, whilst I am nothing like a good programmer, I am at least familiar with it. I doubt that I will write much original code for it, but I might amend something that others have written to make it suit my needs. Maybe.

According to Kickstarter it is due to be shipped later this month. When it arrives I’ll post something about it with some pictures I expect.

Brian Patten, Selected Poems

I bought this collection late last year after reading ‘Vanishing Trick’ again after decades. I enjoyed it so much I had to have more of his work, and I wonder why I haven’t read this sooner. His work is incredible, insightful, poignant and beautiful. Some of these poems just bring me up short, like they were written entirely to speak to me in the very moment that I find myself reading them. They are incredible.

In some ways I just want to read it all over again, but I should probably wait. Instead I might just buy more of his books and satisfy myself with those.

If you don’t know his work, change that.

Finding new uses for old technology (or not)

I recently read an article about people finding new uses for old technology. When I saw the article I was very keen to find out the what and the how, but I was sadly disappointed to discover that it was mostly about people using iPod Shuffles as hair clips. Which is not what I was after really.

For ages I’ve been trying to think of ways to make use of old technology. Uses for the technology that make sense, that are productive and interesting. I’m not really interested in using an old iPod as a hair clip. I don’t think it would suit me for one thing.

One thing I did manage to cobble together was using my old Pebble smartwatch as a key chain.

Not that it is a very useful device if I am honest. It is kind of useful to have the time on my keys, and some notifications are helpful there too, but aside from that it has not been the most successful of experiments.

So what else?

Ideally I would like to find a way to make real use of the old PDAs I have. Over the last couple of years I have sold off a lot of the old devices I owned, and I owned a lot. But I still have a few left that I feel unable to part with. Most of these devices don’t connect to the internet, and if they do they are painfully slow.

A few of them can be used for rudimentary music making, but that is really all it is though. So what could I use them for? That’s the question that is on my mind a lot of the time. Ok, not a lot of the time, but periodically and it is something that I seem to go back to on a regular basis.

As you can see I have used these devices in a variety of different ways over the years, and, whilst some of them have been interesting and fun, none of them have really had long term appeal or efficacy.

Most of the time I find that I need less technology these days rather than more, so finding a real use for any of these devices seems to become harder all the time.

To start off with I am reviving the Sony NX73V. This is a lovely device and one that I actually bought from new.

I found that there was a restore image on the memory stick from 2018, which is probably the last time I went through this process. Next I need to go through all the stuff that is now on the device from the restore process, but that is a post for another day.

Bristol Full Court Press

I was in Bristol over the weekend and had a chance to visit an old favourite. A coffee shop called Full Court Press. The last time I was there was in 2019, before the pandemic. The coffee was excellent back then, and yesterday it was still great. It seems to be so hard to find really good coffee where someone cares about how to make it. There is so much average coffee around.

If you ever find yourself in Bristol city centre and you like really good coffee, I can thoroughly recommend this place. It is superb. The picture is from their window, and it amused me.

A bit of a tidy up

If you have been here before, you may have noticed that the menus have shifted around a bit. I have spent a little time tidying things up. If I am honest, I should probably have done that a while ago and should probably do it on a more regular basis too. However, it always feels good to clear a few things out that no longer feel relevant.

A lot of old stuff has now moved to a menu item called ‘archive’. Which should make more sense. I’ve also cleared out a lot of pages that had little or no value.

Survivors: New Dawn 1

Firstly, I have to say that is great that Survivors is back. I am really pleased that Big Finish decided to revive the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the nine box sets that they produced over the years, and, even if they had finished there it would have been excellent. I think I’ve listened to them about three times so far. I expect I will feel the urge to listen to them all again at some point.

New Dawn is exactly what it says it is. A new start for the Survivors series and set some years after the last set of stories. More than that I won’t say, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you do plan to listen to it.

Without giving anything away, what I can say is that the production values on this set of stories are just as good as all the previous ones, and the same with the performances. I am looking forward to hearing New Dawn 2 in a couple of months.

Here’s to more Survivors.

Apple Watch music apps

I have been looking for Apple Watch Muisc apps since I first got this device. However, to date I have failed to find anything that really ticks the box for me.

There are some though. I can’t say that there aren’t. Here’s what I have been using so far.

Wotja

If you don’t know this app, Wotja is a generative music app for iOS, macOS and Android too. What’s more it works on Apple watch. Having said that, the Apple watch app is effectively a remote for the iOS app. Whilst that works fine, and what’s more is actually quite useful in many ways, I had really wanted something that actually made music on the Apple Watch.

Holonist

Another app that works effectively as a data connection for the iOS app. Again, this is fine, and in fact very useful as the Apple watch app collects a lot of data that is then translated into usable information for making music. But it doesn’t make music on its own. Which is a bit of a shame.

And there is a Holon as well, which is good in of itself. Sort of like Holonist’s little sibling and it does actually make sound, but it connects to the iPhone version.

Shazam …

Of course, there is Shazam and I have used it on my Apple Watch. Whilst it is a music app in many people’s eyes, it doesn’t really fit that category for me. But it is handy to have.

So what am I actually looking for?

Well that’s the real question right. What am I looking for in an apple watch music app? That’s the question really. I think that ideally I’d like an app that allowed me to actually make music on my apple watch independently of anything else.

I can imagine that if Allihoopa had continued that their Figure app might have been a good candidate for just such a thing. The Figure interface could have scaled down to a watch app I think. That would have worked and could have been a good way to start something on a watch then move to an iPhone or iPad and then beyond.

So where does that leave me? I doubt very much that anyone is going to make such a thing, not for just me anyway.

Avant Garde Composers Top Trumps

Now that Christmas is done for another year I thought I would share one of the more interesting things I received. I believe that these came from a seller on Etsy, and I can thoroughly recommend them. They are a lot of fun. I have only played once and that was with my two teenage nephews who very graciously agreed to play a game with me using these.

The cards themselves are quite lovely. Nicely made and with listening recommendations for each composer. Not all of the recommendations I agreed with however.

If you’re interested in getting these, you can find them on Etsy here.

The Wire top 50 albums of 2021

Every year I listen to all of the Wire magazine top fifty albums of the year from their rewind issue. Some years I might have heard of a few of them. Some years I might have even bought one or two of them. But on the whole it is rarely more than one or two.

Usually I find very little that I would want to follow up on, occasionally an artist will stand out for me and I’ll find something new to follow. But more than anything I am pleased to find so much music that, whilst I may not enjoy it, is being created by people who are pushing the boundaries of sound. I find that quite a comforting thought.

I have been a subscriber of the wire for a long time. Probably well over a decade, possibly longer. I like the fact that there is so much going on on the fringes of the world of music. Even if it is music that I don’t like. That is not the point. I just like that it exists, that there are people creating this stuff, having these ideas.

Anyway, if I do find anything that I think is worth noting, then I might just post about it. Who knows.